Willie Ruane: 'New Pro12 format is better for fans'
Connacht CEO Willie Ruane believes that the absence of Heineken Cup rugby this year will be offset by the changes to the Pro12 which will decide what sides play the premier European competition next season.
And with season ticket sales remaining buoyant, Ruane paid tribute to Connacht's growing supporter base.
"We've very loyal supporters. They've been good through the years and thankfully we've a really good offering here in terms of the level of rugby that will be played.
"In a way, it is the Pro12 offsetting the lack of Heineken Cup this season, but we will also have top-class European rugby.
"Exeter are a fine side, Bayonne are playing at the top level of French rugby and La Rochelle have come up from the second tier to the Top 14 so they have momentum and they will be looking to make an impact."
But Ruane believes that the changes to the Pro12 will be the biggest difference this season.
"The Pro12, the fact that it is, every single match counts. If we want to achieve our ambitions then we need to deliver week-in week-out and that competitive nature of the Pro12 means that our supporters are conscious of the need to be in the ground cheering for us and then when they are here, knowing that what will come out on the pitch really matters," he added.
He said that Connacht would carry out improvements at the Sportsground to ensure that games are even more enjoyable.
"We need to develop the match-day experience for all of our supporters and also for our players. That's an ongoing piece of work. We need to develop a plan in terms of what is it that we want and how would we fund it," he added.